This guide is suggested for students of ACS1001.
The first step can be daunting and frustrating at times:
What should I do?
Will this work?
I can't come up with any ideas!
Here are some tips to jump-start your research:
It is always a good idea to start any research project with a quick survey of the existing scholarly discussion. Such a survey can start with an already existing but still vague idea or with a basic review of the published scholarly discourse on a writer. Here are some suggestions:
Subject search: Kafka, FranzThe Library of Congress call number for Kafka criticism is PT2621.A26 Z.... Call numbers starting with PT are shelved on the fourth floor of the Library.
Subject search: Camus, Albert
Subject search: Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Brother Karamazov
Subject search: Dostoyevsky, Fyodor
Subject search: Du Bois, W.E.B.
Subject search: Shakespeare, William - Othello
Remember that not all topics are equal. A good topic is a topic that fits the scope of your paper/thesis. Consider how many pages you will need for an in-depth discussion of a particular topic. Remember that you do not have time for original research and that you will have to rely on the research of others. Always discuss your final choice of topic with your teacher.
Once you have settled on a topic, go back to the library's catalog and to the journal indexes and search them with a variety of keywords related to your topic. Review the results and select potential source material for your paper. Avoid scholarly articles that use highly specialized vocabulary. Avoid very short articles. They tend to be superficial and unscholarly. Select articles and book chapters that pique your interest and get your creative juices flowing. Save all your choices in an e-mail folder or on your laptop.
Scanning a few lines reveals that the author expects fairly extensive knowledge of Plato, Kant, and Kafka from his readers. And what is eudaimonia anyway? It is always a good idea to avoid sources that you cannot understand.
Here are a few starting points for your literature review:
Take your favorite book, article, or book chapter and start reviewing the cited references. Go to library's catalog to locate these items. Remember that you can request items that the Library does not own through interlibrary loan.
Don't hesitate to revisit the Library's catalog and indexes whenever you think that you can profit from addtional sources during the writing process. Related encyclopedia articles, books and journal articles can give you great ideas for your paper, even though they may not talk about your writer at all.
Example: subject search for loneliness in literature
I am happy to meet with you at any time, in person, by phone, or virtually via our chat service.
You can also email me directly.
Rob LeBlanc is the ACS support librarian & subject librarian for Ethics and is available for research consultations, instruction, curricular support & purchase requests.